On Tuesday evening at Memorial Field, the soccer ball bounced around the box in every direction. But it had a tendency to land at Bellarmine junior Robert Nurmi’s feet, once it stopped rolling around.
Nurmi scored twice, both on rebound efforts, thanks to the Lions’ relentless attack against the Gig Harbor Tides and Bellarmine Prep defeated Gig Harbor, 3-1, to deny the Tides the Class 4A Narrows title.
The Lions also earned the season sweep against their rivals across the bridge.
“It’s a team effort, everyone just sticking with the plays,” Nurmi said. “It was a great matchup. It’s always a good game with Gig Harbor. It definitely feels great to get the win.”
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Bellarmine Prep (8-1-2, 7-1-2 4A Narrows) played the role of the aggressor, dominating scoring chances in the first half and headed into the break with a 2-0 lead on goals from Luke Witker and Nurmi.
“I thought our guys were absolutely fantastic, all over the field,” Lions coach Joe Waters said. “We settled into what we wanted to do and we took them completely out of their game. I just thought our guys up front especially caused havoc for them. They couldn’t handle our pace and our ability to get a touch on the ball and redirect it for guys that were prepared to run onto it.
“We really worked hard today. They got the reward for it.”
While Gig Harbor (11-2-1, 8-2-1) earned the sweep over Bellarmine Prep last season, it was the Lions who had the Tides’ number this year.
“It’s a great rivalry,” Waters said. “They have a great tradition, a great coach and great players. These are the games — (Tides coach) Todd (Northstrom) and I were talking about before the game — these are the games that prepare us for the playoffs. The three teams coming out of this league are going to be tough teams.”
While Gig Harbor came out with better intensity in the second half and senior Edwin Brown scored in the 59th minute, the Tides were in too big of a hole to crawl out.
“It was a ball-watching game,” Northstrom said. “We know exactly what they do offensively. But we watched the ball and we got caught. And then what hurt us the most, we got the ball beat over the top, the defenders regrouped, but in the midfield, we just stood and watched.
“They were able to play the ball without anybody running on them. That’s not being mentally ready for the game.”
If both Gig Harbor and Bellarmine Prep win out, the Lions will win the 4A Narrows because of the tie-breaker advantage.